Spice it up!
Madagascar This tree might look unexceptional, but deep inside Cinnamomum verum nestles the sweet, musky fragrance of cinnamon. Madagascar’s cinnamon trees were brought by boat from what was then Ceylon in the 15th century. The cinnamon harvested in the island’s eastern regions is one of the most prized in the world. The inner bark, which is removed and rolled finely, can conserve its aromas for several years. Locally, it is known for its antiseptic properties and used in infusions, or else grated over compotes and cakes. The leaves are used to produce essential oils with a variety of medicinal uses.
Mauritius Growing vanilla requires special care; the flowers have to be pollinated by hand, a painstaking job. That’s why few on the island actually grow it. The Château de Labourdonnais has devoted 5 hectares to the production of vanilla, which is used in flavoring the sea bream tartare at La Maison d’Été restaurant. Just the right balance has to be found between its sweetness, the finesse of the fish and the interplay of coriander and chives. Add a few pink peppercorns and some old-fashioned mustard and you end up with a dish with colorful accents that is easy to make.
La Maison d’Été
Poste Lafayette. Tél. +230 410 5039.www.lamaisondete.com
Ethiopia Berbere is the sine qua non of Ethiopian cuisine. This spice mixture blends chili peppers, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black cumin and passion berries (from the plant Ruta chalepensis), in varying proportions. It is added to some of the most popular dishes, spicing up doro wot, chicken stew served with hard-boiled eggs; adding heat to shiro, a chickpea puree; and jazzing up an entire palette of concoctions arranged in small piles on the injera, the other local culinary staple. Every guest has their own round flatbread made from teff flour, as it serves as a plate, cutlery and bread all at the same time.